Monday, October 3, 2011

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers Leaps into Glendale Centre Theatre

Jennifer J. Webb as Milly, Don Woodruff
as the Preacher, and Jason Webb as Adam
 
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers opened on Broadway in 1982 at a time when the musical theatre world was ruled by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s grand, sweeping scores and Stephen Sondheim’s exploration into the grittier side of life. With its wholesome, optimistic charm and exuberant song and dance numbers, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is as far from Webber and Sondheim as you can get, which may have contributed to why it only played five performances before closing. The glorious music & lyrics of Gene de Paul and Johnny Mercer, along with new music by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn sound more like those of Rodgers & Hammerstein in their heyday.

Glendale Centre Theatre is having a rollicking good time remounting the classic and director Robert Marra keeps it light and fresh as he skillfully moves his cast of 23 around the stage. Lee Martino choreographs dance numbers that are one bright, energetic triumph after another full of classic musical theatre partnering, progressive arm-wrestling, ax jumping, lifts, carries, and acrobatics - and her dancers manage it all without missing a beat.

It’s Oregon in the 1850s when Adam Pontipee (Jason W. Webb) comes to town looking for a wife who’s not afraid to work, and finds his match in a young woman named Milly (Jennifer J. Webb). Taking her home as his new bride she discovers that he conveniently forgot to mention his six boisterous, backwoods brothers who live with him. Never one to shy away from hard work, she decides to make the best of the situation, schooling the rough-and-tumble boys in the ways of courting so they can find wives of their own. It’s a set-up that lends itself to many comical moments and a whole lot of fun.

Milly is the heart and soul of the show and Ms. Webb has a natural warmth and down-to-earth grace that provides a maternal anchor for the rest of the high-spirited shenanigans. Her real life husband plays Adam with a swagger and confidence that is necessary to the role though it’s a fine line between stubborn, chauvinistic trapper and dangerous brute. Both have beautiful voices and an on-stage ease that lets you know you are in good hands. Musical director Steven Applegate brings out the best in them.

The remaining six brides are pretty and sweet and dance up a storm with Adam’s six unruly brothers. They are Holly Childers, Emily Coddington, Ashley Mackel, Caroline Montes, Lindsey Rei, Libby Snyder, and Andrew Allen, Andrew Blake Ames, Fernando Duran, Brandon Heitkamp, Grant Jordan, and Paul Reid, along with dancing suitors John Paul Batista, Genaro Gutierrez, Robert Hartson, Kevin Holmquist, Raymond Matsumara and Steven Weber.

Seamless transitions between scenes are also choreographed and timed to coincide with music and light changes keeping the action moving forward and making set pieces appear as if by magic.

Like all classic musicals, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is best enjoyed for its beautiful melodies, dynamite dancing and knockabout laughs. You’ll find all that and more on Glendale Centre Theatre’s stage now through November 19. Click Here for tickets and more information.

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Comedy Faceposted by Ellen Dostal, MusicalsInLA @
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